Need help as a new(ish) rider? Read this!

Posted by on April 14th, 2021 at 2:23 pm

With confidence, comes smiles.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Let’s say you just started biking during the pandemic or are thinking about biking and just haven’t done it yet. Or perhaps you’ve gotten strong on the indoor bike and haven’t ventured out into city traffic. Or maybe you’ve biked for a while and are just still not super confident?

If you need help getting over the hump to that next level of confidence, I’ve got a few ideas that might help. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Lumberyard: Portland’s only indoor bike park can help folks of all ages. What’s great about The Lumberyard is their progressive approach. That means you can have fun at any skill level, and build as you progress in confidence and technique. Their camps are geared toward kids (and will be held this summer), but the place itself is awesome for all ages. They also offer individual instruction and fun classes like, “For the Ladies”, “Jumping Like a Dad”, and “Keeping up With the Kids”. They’re now open for indoor sessions with Covid precautions in place. Learn more here.

Portland By Cycle (PBOT): This city program offers a trove of online resources and offline classes and events. They’ve got all the maps, route ideas, tips and information any new or seasoned rider would need. Get on their email list and like their Facebook page to stay in the loop for their solid slate of clinics and workshops. Learn more here.

Black Girls Do Bike: The Portland chapter of this national organization is known for their fun and welcoming rides for Black women. They have a (private) Facebook group where you can find details on their rides, some of which are geared specifically to beginners. Learn more here.

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WashCo Bikes Education Clinics: This Hillsboro-based nonprofit offers several educational courses taught by certified cycling instructors. They have a class for beginners, one for learning rules of the road, and one geared toward gaining confidence in traffic. Learn more here.

We-Bike Portland: This Facebook group is hosted by The Street Trust and bills itself as a program to, “Inspire more trans people of all genders, gender non-conforming folx, 2 spirit, and women (both trans and cis) to incorporate a bike into their lives and use biking as a way to meet their transportation needs and personal goals.” They host rides, social events, and will help connect you with a bike mentor. Learn more here.

Pedalpalooza: Portland’s annual summer bike festival is a perfect way to sharpen your cycling skills. Think about it: Hundreds of fun (and free) group rides that are full of helpful and welcoming people. If you stick to the larger rides, you’ll benefit from the “safety in numbers” phenomenon and you’ll roll through town like a royal motorcade. Start Pedalpalooza as a newbie; end Pedalpalooza as a wily veteran. Learn more here.

Parks & Rec classes: Some cities have cycling classes as part of their Parks & Rec offerings. The City of Lake Oswego for instance, has an adult mountain biking class taught by an expert rider that meets at a nearby bike park. Learn more here.

Gracie’s Wrench: Portlander Tori Bortman has been offering one-on-one riding instruction (and repair classes!) for many years. She can teach almost anyone how to ride, whether you are just starting out or want to move from novice to master. Learn more here.

Around Portland Bike Tours: A tour guide company might not seem like an obvious place for beginners, but I had a hunch it would a nice way for beginners to gain confidence, so I asked our friend and Around Portland Bike Tours guide Sarah Gilbert about it. “We very frequently coach our riders in use of gears, brakes, etc., and a good part of every tour is introducing people to Portland’s bike infrastructure,” she shared. Sarah brings up a good point: Even if you know how to ride, do you know how to use Portland’s many different (and sometimes confusing) types of bike infrastructure? A guided tour is the perfect way to gain confidence and learn about the city you ride in. Learn more here.

What did I miss? Any other resources for folks just starting out?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Todd/Boulanger
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Todd/Boulanger

And for future cyclists north of the Columbia River in Clark County WA…check out Bike Clark County:
Their YOUTH “EARN-A-BIKE” CAMP Participants in the Earn-a-Bike program receive a free used-bike, gain bike maintenance skills, etc.
https://bikeclarkcounty.org/our-programs/

Kris Clements
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Kris Clements

What self defense classes should a cyclist take if they’re interested in riding on the Springwater or 205 paths? I try to ride in a group but it’s been hard during the pandemic, yet I don’t feel safe there alone. Even with a cell phone and pepper spray.

Suburban
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Suburban

Despite the lead photo, cell’ phones and pepper spray make bad gifts. Chocolate and double A batteries are almost always appreciated.
If you find yourself riding on a road or path and there is something in your way, check your mirrors, then carefully go around it. If you need to stop, pull to the side so others may safely pass you.

Vernon Martin
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Vernon Martin

Unfortunately, Community Cycling Center’s kids bike camps are not open for 2021 (due to COVID) but this is a great way to introduce kids to riding. Remember it for summer of 2022.

https://communitycyclingcenter.org/community/bike-camp/